* 12 ways music can support your mental health is a guest post
Music is magical. But also scientific. And great for supporting your mental health!
As a music therapist, I’ve learned a lot about how music can positively affect our bodies, minds, and souls. On your mental health journey, there are lots of ways to use music to help you along. One thing to remember is that there is no one type of music that is good for everyone! How music affects you is highly individualized to your preferred music!
So with that in mind, here are 12 ways you can use music to support your mental health.
12 ways you can use music to support your mental health
1. Music to express your emotions
Emotional expression is an essential part of supporting your mental health. Music is a beautiful way to express your feelings, however you’re feeling. You can listen to a song that you deeply relate to, sing or play an instrument, or even write song lyrics or make music to convey your feelings. Making music can be as easy as tapping your hands on a table!
2. Music as cathartic release
Sometimes you just really need to cry or have a laugh-until-you-cry situation, you feel? Music can give you a safe space to let all your feelings out and feel so much better afterwards. You may even want to make a playlist of songs that make you cry, or songs that are angry, so you have a place to go when you know you need to release those emotions.
3. Music as a relaxation tool
I probably don’t need to tell you that music can be very relaxing. But did you know that it has actual effects on your body that relax it? Both music and our bodies are rhythmic beings. A slower tempo song helps slow your heartbeat down, lower your blood pressure, and decrease the level of stress hormones in your body. I personally like the Yoga & Meditation playlist on Spotify. My friend likes to listen to relaxing dog music lol. When you repeatedly play certain songs or playlists to help yourself relax, your body will start to associate those songs with relaxation and make it easier to relax!
4. Music as creative expression
Doing something creative is an awesome way to work your mind, have fun, and improve your mental health! As opposed to emotional expression, creative expression can be born out of the wanderings and imagination of your mind, usually in a more relaxed state free of uncomfortable emotions. Use music to be creative by singing along to a song, maybe even creating harmonies, playing music by yourself or with others, or trying your hand at writing music.
5. Music as connection
Growing up, I LOVED being in choir. I loved that so many voices could come together and make beautiful harmonies. Even if I didn’t know (or like) everyone in the choir, I just felt so connected to the group while we worked together to make music. Feeling connected to others is important to our mental health because it helps us know we are not alone in this crazy world. Other ways you can use music as connection include playing instruments with people, going to a concert (when it’s safe), or even just listening to music with someone, singing along or talking about the songs!
6. Music as a distraction
Sometimes when a million thoughts are swirling around your head and you can’t stop thinking about all the things you have to do, you just need a moment of distraction. Put on a song you love and focus your mind on it. Singing along helps me focus on it, or looking at the lyrics as I listen. Listening to music you enjoy releases endorphins in your brain, which subdues anxiety.
7. Music as focus
For some people, listening to music is a great way to focus while you work or study. I’ve found that I can only do that if it’s instrumental music because I’m so used to singing along to songs! But I can listen to non-instrumental if I’m not trying to read or write. You can create or find playlists that work to help you focus! What kind of music helps you focus?
8. Music as motivation
I love putting on music while I clean or am working on blog posts. Music can have this effect of just keeping us going. In another way, certain songs can be personally motivating for you, either while you’re exercising or dealing with a hard situation. Listening to your preferred music releases dopamine and endorphins in your brain, which are hormones that make us feel happier! Create a playlist of songs that motivate you, or find a playlist like Motivation Monday on Spotify.
9. Music to stimulate exercise
Going back to how both our bodies and music are rhythmic, the rhythm of the music can make you want to move! Lots of people listen to upbeat music while they run (running’s not for me lol), and your favorite music can make you want to dance. Exercise is so important for our mental health. Both exercise and music release those happy hormones in our brains! Make a playlist of upbeat songs that make you want to move!
10. Music as a mood booster
This might be another no-brainer! But if you’re feeling particularly down, music can be a great way to lift your spirits. The technical term for this is the Isoprinciple: you use music to meet your emotions where they are at. So start out with a song that reflects how you’re feeling, then choose songs that progressively bring you to a better mood. And again with the happy hormones… 🙂 I also talk about the Isoprinciple in my post on Joy in the Midst of Depression.
11. Music as encouragement
Music is a great way to encourage yourself. Similar to lifting your mood, find songs that are encouraging to you in your preferred genre. It’s amazing how words put to the right music can affect our minds, hearts, and bodies.
I love playing worship music on my guitar!
12. Music as worship
Music is the deepest way I connect with God. A lot of the time, I even feel like God is speaking to me through the lyrics. One of my favourite self-care practices is getting out my guitar and playing some Christian songs. I also love listening to my personal playlist Fav Christian Songs.
Music is not only a physical and mental stimulator, it’s spiritual as well. Listening to or making music associated with your religious beliefs just hits different. Check out my cover of Image of God and my thoughts on it 🙂
Music is a powerful and personal tool that can help you support your mental health journey.
What is your favourite way to use music to support your mental health?? Let me know in the comments!
A Piece of Joy
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Guest Author Bio
Hi! I’m Sam ☺️ I am a Board Certified Music Therapist, nanny to two wonderful kids, and part-time blogger living in Washington, US! I love to write about mental health and self-care, relationships, faith, and a bit of baking! Other things I love include my husband, Aidan, my black cat, Missy, painting, playing games, being outside, and exploring new places. If you liked this post, you can find me at my blog’s website, on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter!
Massive thank you to Sam for writing this guest post. If you would like to guest post for The Kelly Diane Report, click this link to find out more.